Bolton School Former Pupils

Constance Howarth

Constance Howarth attended Bolton School in the 1940s, before leaving to studying Art at the Manchester College of Art.  She went on to become a freelance fabric designer, milliner, dressmaker, business woman and sometime model, earning her fame from Lancashire to London and New York.

Whilst at School, Constance won the Susan Mary Simpson Art Prize in 1940-1, and in 1940 she also won a competition to design a war savings poster, displayed in London.  In 1944 she gained her certificate in education from Bolton School Girls’ Division.

Her inspiration came from visits to art galleries in Europe and she developed her own style, using her own fabric designs to make dresses, which she would wear to visit customers, modelling her own wares to show them off to potential buyers.  Constance, from Lostock, visited the USA, particularly Miami and New York, and set about designing clothes for the American market made from the cloth she had designed herself, and which was printed in Lancashire.

In the summer of 1955 she had designed and made a collection of 16 dresses, each with an accompanying hat.  Hiring a suite in a New York hotel, she showed the designs to buyers from some of the city’s big stores.  The gamble paid off and she returned home with orders for hundreds of dresses.  The 1950s are described as the most glamorous of decades and Constance Howarth’s designs attracted attention from the fashionistas of London, Paris and New York.

Constance died in March 2012 and in 2013 Bolton Museum featured an exhibition entitled ‘Constance Howarth: The Life and Work of a Bolton Fashion Designer’.  The exhibition showcased Constance’s sketches, designs and dresses from the 1950s onwards and was marked as a ‘fitting tribute to the life and work of an Old Girl’.

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